Thank you for writing to us with your question. I want you to know that I am a minister in the OPC and do not speak for the denomination as a whole. On the other hand, we all are examined on the system of doctrine in the Westminster Confession of Faith. In the first chapter of the Confession it stipulates that God worked at “sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.”
But our primary standard is the Bible, which we hold to be divinely inspired and true in all it states and teaches. Therefore, I offer the following biblical defense of our position: first with regard to the Bible’s teaching regarding the closing of the canon and the corollary, the Bible’s teaching that all of God’s special revelation (all revelation from God is either special revelation or general revelation; general revelation is what is seen in nature—including what is seen in man’s heart) ceased with the closing of the canon (the completion of the Bible: Rev. 22:18–19, Dan. 9:24, Zech. 13:3, 1 Cor. 13:9–10). Hence, those who claim revelations from God, saying things that are not in the Bible, are misguided. Second, with regard to the content of their visions, the use of jewelries, the Bible does not forbid the use of jewelry. God does not forbid women to wear jewelry. Proverbs 25:12 says, “Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.” So, to Solomon, the writer of the proverbs, an earring and other jewelry are good things, and, by good and necessary deduction, not sinful to wear. Ezekiel 16:8–14 is very instructive, too. It says:
“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD.
“Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord GOD.
Thus we learn that when God describes the blessings he heaped upon Israel he uses a figure of speech that includes the ornamentation of beautiful women in that day, including earrings and other jewelry. Surely, the Lord presents these adornments as socially and spiritually acceptable.
Also, related to this passage is Song of Solomon 1:10–11 where the maiden is described as follows: “Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold. We will make you ornaments of gold with studs of silver” (NKJV). This poetic passage presents the female ornamentation of that day as acceptable and good in the sight of God.
As for your second question, it seems to me a good and necessary deduction from these verses that since God does not forbid jewelry, neither does he forbid a woman’s coifing her hair. Therefore, I conclude that God allows women to wear with impunity various decorative adornments, including earrings. In other words, such things are matters of Christian liberty.
“Beauty is only skin deep,” says the well-known proverb. Note that in counseling the married women of his time, Peter grasps the meaning of this proverb. He is not so much concerned about their outward beauty as about their inner charm.
If we paraphrase Peter’s words to capture the intent of the Greek, we hear him say, “I object to the work of elaborately braiding your hair, the ostentatious wearing of gold ornaments, and the undue effort of dressing yourself in expensive clothes.” Peter does not address slave women who lacked the means to wear expensive garments and gold jewelry. On the contrary, he admonishes the wealthy ladies in the Christian community, not to stress outward appearance but to develop the inward beauty of a gentle spirit. He says, “Instead, it should be that of your inner self.” The contrast is clear. In place of “outward adornment” Peter stresses “the inner self.” A literal translation of the Greek is “the hidden person of the heart.” Whereas hairstyles, jewelry and expensive clothes are meant for display and can be done by anyone, the inner self is hidden from view (compare 1 Cor. 14:25; Eph. 3:16) and can only be transformed by grace. Peter gives the reader a description of this inner self as most important.
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